Tag Archives: interior design

Lake home decorating

When my Beloved and I renovated an old church into a house, I created a design template for us to use as we made decorating decisions so the end result would be cohesive.

It worked so well, I created one to use in decorating our new condo, too. (The marketing materials for this place call it a hilltop villa. “Hilltop villa” rings of sophistication and sounds like it belongs in Fiji or Italy, no? Our “hilltop villa” is indeed on a hilltop, but it’s in Texas, where words like “sophistication” carry different images).

Our theme was “lake home” decorated in “modern country.” I grew up in the land of 10,000 lakes—I should be able to pull off “lake home.” All color roads in our design theme led to blue (or blue-green) like water. This narrowed our wall art choices from millions down to thousands.

Shall we have a look around?


Earlier this month, I shared an image of the living room oriented the other direction because we didn’t have our sofa yet. Well, it arrived a week ago, and it’s great for napping. Above it, we hung an abstract oil painting of a lake that I found at a consignment store. Between the art and the rug and the furniture, this room screams sand and water and sky.

Each bedroom has a different Austin, Texas-y theme.

art-king bedroom

In the first guest room, we went with a more literal lake. Tyler found this five-panel art work on Amazon.

art-king lamp

We chose a lampshade for this room that was vaguely nautical. TE broken porcelain lamp base reminds me of broken shells.


In third bedroom, the them is “Austin music scene,” still relying on a color story of blues. I found the guitar wall art on Wayfair. The clock on the other wall is actually a painted record album (remember those). We have grand plans to turn a couple of old bugles into lamps, but we haven’t accomplished that feat yet. This room is also my office; the bed is actually a murphy bed that folds up and out of the way.

art-office as office

Here’s how the room looks when the bed is folded up and I’m working in it (the living room wall art happens to be propped in my office in this photo, but it was temporary).

The room I’m most pleased with is the master bedroom, decorated in a Texas wine country theme.

art-master bed

Many wine themed items are red and purple, which didn’t fit with my color story. But I found the “Valentino” art for $6 at Goodwill so I made a canvas print to pair with it with an image I found on Shutterstock. Wine in a field of Texas bluebonnets—perfect! We found lampshades with French words on them (which is not Texas, but is sort of wine related). Check out those nightstands—furniture made with wine barrels!


Found at the same vendor, the circular wall art on the other wall is actually the top of a wine barrel, painted with an image of a vineyard that coordinates nicely with the bluebonnets.

art-toilet shelf

Also at the wine barrel furniture store, we found this shelving unit made from a barrel for above the toilet in the master bath. It’s very heavy, but if you know how my Beloved operates, you know it’ll never come down.

Art-wine chair

Coincidentally, Tyler found the perfect accent piece in the trash last week. Someone didn’t like this rusty old chair, but you know we love spray paint so the rust when bye-bye, and we have a place to take off our shoes in our bedroom.

Stay tuned. On Thursday, I’ll share a couple of other paint projects in the condo I pulled off recently.


Back in the home improvement groove

When we visited properties late last year with our Texas Realtor, we entertained the idea of buying a fixer upper. After all, we knew we could pull off a project like that after what we accomplished with old church in southern Wisconsin that we turned into a home.

But memories of the dust, the mess, the back-aching work stopped us from buying an uncut gem. Instead, we settled on a condo.

As I shared last week, the condo still had more than its fair share of dust (click here for that story), but at least the electrical wiring and most of the plumbing is in operational order.

Still, the carpeting was horrifying, the kitchen backsplash ho-hum and the place hadn’t been painted in more than 15 years. Rather than take up those projects ourselves, my Beloved tracked down a couple of truly excellent contractors who swooped in the days after we closed to lay new flooring, install a new backsplash and paint every last thing from ceilings to trim. Ah, the power of paint!

Since before-and-after photos are so satisfying, I thought you might find our projects interesting.

condo carpet before

BEFORE: Wear and tear on the carpet was evident.

We replaced the tiling in the kitchen, entryway and bathrooms and the carpeting elsewhere with a luxury vinyl plank flooring, designed to be attractive and long-wearing.

condo flooring after


The tile looks like distressed wood with a mix of beige and brown and gray and black to coordinate with anything.

condo backsplash before

BEFORE: The former kitchen backsplash matched the tile flooring and wasn’t different enough from the granite countertops.

I hated the kitchen backsplash and briefly considered a sparkly tiny tile, but I shook off my Las Vegas fantasies and ultimately choose an almond subway tile.

condo backsplash after

AFTER: Kitchen backsplash. Ahh.

Originally, the walls were taupe and the trim was off-white, a very straightforward choice. The effect was drab.

condo living room before

BEFORE: This is how the living room looked on our first showing. The paint job was unremarkable (and the furniture was clunky and further boring).

After painting the entire church in one color scheme which drew attention to the architecture instead of the room colors, I knew I would do that again in this condo. I decided to switch the dark and light of the original paint job by painting the thick, beautiful trim a darker color than the walls. This had the added benefit of saving money on the paint job because we had the ceilings painted the same light color as the walls.

I adore the is-it-gray?-is-it-green? vibe of the trim color. It calls attention to the most interesting architectural elements of the room–the doors and windows. And the windows become beautiful frames for the view of the lake. The trim color is part of Sherwin-Williams Nurturer collection. It’s called Sensible Hue. That darker color on the wainscoting is Illusive Green. The walls and ceiling were painted in Oyster White.

As a lake home, the condo needed a calm and watery theme (rather than Spanish Revival or whatever was going on before). Heck, if a Minnesota Transplant can’t figure out how to outfit a lake home, who can?! These paint colors coordinate with the blues and greens of the furniture and accessories we invested in.

I’ll be sharing images of some of the rooms after they’re completely furnished, which we’re still working on. But here’s a peek at part of the living room.

condo living room after

AFTER: Now, that’s better!


Let there be light: Nightstand transformation

As happens with home improvement projects, one thing leads to another and a single project turns into a dozen projects.

Longtime readers will recall the project my Beloved and I undertook two years ago that began with a wish for new curtains and ended with six colors of paint on every wall on the main floor, new carpeting and a new sofa (read about the beginning of that project here, and for your complete satisfaction, check out the before-and-after shots here, here, here, here and here).

So it went with repainting my Adored stepson’s bedroom.

His grandmother painted his bedroom when we moved in 2007. The room formerly belonged to a 3-year-old, and baby blue was not what my then-13-year-old stepson wanted, so Grandma repainted it in Chicago Bears blue and orange. Very dark blue. And very bright orange.

Alas, I don’t have a before picture, so you’ll just have to imagine its perfect garishness.

Adored stepson now attends college, so we decided a new paint job was in order. Well, I decided. My Beloved adores the Chicago Bears, so he probably would have tolerated it, but me? Not so much.

Still, Adored stepson comes home often so I couldn’t convince anyone to repaint the room in a nice coral (orange-ish, see?). Oh, well. So we repainted one of the very dark blue walls a slightly lighter shade of dark blue (Pittsburgh Paints’ Calvary if you must know). And the other dark blue wall and the two orange walls were transformed with Silver Blueberry, a smoky medium blue.

And as along as we were repainting the walls, well, the headboard would really pop against the dark blue wall if it were white instead of black, right? And, gee, the nightstand was just too dark, too, right? And if we brightened up the nightstand, we better repaint the dresser, too, huh? And get new lamps?


Today, I share with you the results of the nightstand makeover. I’ve discovered I love painting furniture. When one starts with a beat-up, unloved piece of wood, the payoff is enormous. Very satisfying.

Here’s the nightstand before:

Nightstand: Before

Nightstand: Before

The top is formica, not wood, so that required a coat of primer first and a couple of coats of Milk Paint (regular readers may recall I painted the body of another piece of furniture in Milk Paint, and if you’re interested in seeing that incredible transformation, click here).

I settled on painting the body of the nightstand in Ashen, sort of a grayish cream. The drawers are a bit lighter with Shalestone. Going from dark to light makes for a dramatic transformation. Here’s how it looks after:

Nightstand: After

Nightstand: After

I hated those clunky drawer pulls, so I invested in sleek new ones in a wavy brushed chrome. It required filling the old holes, with which I had uneven success, but I’m still happy with the results:

And check out those legs: A little Milk Paint accents the embellishment that was already there:

Nightstand leg: Close-up

Nightstand leg: Close-up

As long as I was already painting the nightstand, I also painted the dresser (twice as wide) in the same colors. And the mirror that hung above it now needs a shot of paint, too. I’ll share the dresser transformation as soon as I finish the mirror (later this week, I hope). And tomorrow, I’ll share the after photos of the repainted bedroom. Stay tuned.

The power of the hex head wrench

Not sure what a hex head wrench is? Otherwise known as an Allen wrench or Allen key?

hex head wrenchThen you haven’t put together any build-it-yourself furniture lately.

My Beloved has a garage full of tools of every size and type, flavor and color, but I assembled my new desk and chair all by myself with this little powerhouse. And a few grunts and groans. (OK, I used a Phillips screwdriver for fewer than a dozen screws, but that fact messes up my ode.)

Too often we cruise through our day without the proper respect for uncomplicated tools like can openers, pencils and puffy shower sponges. The simple hex head wrench helped me connect strange pieces and parts into, lo and behold, a comfy swirling, twirling office chair and a glass desk any design minimalist would love.

In the vein of this week’s theme of before-and-after photos (missed the previous entries in the office redecorating project? click herehere and here), here’s my desk area before, a perfectly functional dark wood desk and black office chair:

desk doorway before

And here’s the after:

desk doorway after

To be clear for copycats out there, my desk is actually TWO desks. The design offers a corner connector, but I didn’t want my desk to be that long on the side. And see that cigar box under my monitor? Phfft, that needs to go. I’m thinking maybe glass block; a trip to Menards is in store.

At least one online source confirms glass is an excellent symbol for career in feng shui (also, the position of my desk prevents invaders from entering the room and stabbing me in the back, which would be very, very bad feng shui). But probably my wisest decision for creating flow in my new office design was the one to remove the chaise lounge. That lounge chair, also known affectionately in our family as the therapy couch, served as a useful resting place for my Adored stepson when he was living with us a junior high school student. He spent many afternoons after school recounting his day and soaking up my attention and advice. But the chair was too big to keep (and the Adored stepson is now a college student who still soaks up my attention and advice, but far less frequently).

Thank you, hex head wrench, for the power you represent (and it’s pretty much disposable, too — a new one comes with every home assembly project).

Appreciating ingenious simplicity, indeed.